Wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) already pervade numerous business sectors, from health and fitness, to lifestyle, to event management. As the technology continues to improve, becoming less risky and more mainstream, wearables will open up many opportunities for small businesses to grow and enhance their offerings and capabilities.

From designing new devices, to developing new wearable applications, to implementing new use cases, wearable technology can benefit small businesses seeking to grow in three key ways.

For Businesses Seeking to:

1. Expand in the Healthcare Sector

One of the most familiar use cases for wearable technology is health and fitness tracking. Wearables can collect data that reveal heart rate, blood sugar levels, sleep patterns, and activity levels, among other vital statistics. This slew of information opens the possibility for businesses to harness and contextualize the data collected in unique ways.

For example, HealthTap, a health management platform that facilitates virtual consultations between patients and a network of doctors, extended its mobile platform to wearables, in order to improve the quality of consultations. HealthTap’s wearable application tracks and records relevant health information and creates a personalized Health Graph, which patients can point to when describing symptoms or expressing health concerns to a doctor.

“All of a sudden, the data becomes useful because the doctor can tell you, ‘Your symptoms are flaring up again because it seem like you haven’t been doing this thing that the wearables are telling me and tracking.’ … All of a sudden, these graphs and data points are being shown to the doctor in a specific context that’s valuable to the consumer and to the doctor.” – Sean Mehra, head of product, HealthTap

Additionally, businesses in the health sector can use wearable technology to bolster preventative care practices.

Sickweather, a small business that developed a Doppler radar for illness, embraced wearable technology to expand its offerings. While its mobile platform crowd sources data to create a real-time map of illnesses, its wearable application features a location-based threat level index, the Sick Score, and hand-washing timer. The Sick Score alerts users to nearby illnesses, while the hand-washing timer aids the user in staving off illness.

2. Augment Event Management and Planning Capabilities

Wearable technology changes the game when it comes to event planning and management.

First, the company planning the event can use wearables as a jumping off point for a more creative event structure.

For example, Plastic Mobile, a mobile application design and development company, used wearables to augment an event commemorating the company’s fifth anniversary. Using a smartwatch application, the company enabled participants to track social interactions, which were put on a leaderboard to incentivize engaging with a multitude of different people.

On the other hand, for the attendees, wearables produce a more meaningful experience. For example, an event-focused wearable application can suggest who an attendee should approach and converse with, based on the information submitted during registration.

3. Improve Productivity and Efficiency

Wearables improve employee productivity and business efficiency in a number of ways.

First, businesses that perform site surveys and building inspections or tabulate goods in a warehouse can become more efficient by incorporating wearable technology into their business processes. Specifically, wearables allow employees to complete tasks without using their hands.

Second, productivity- and organization-focused wearable applications aim to help individuals accomplish day-to-day goals and stay on-task. A wearables’ proximity to the body – on the wrist – ensures the user cannot ignore notifications from a to-do list or calendar event.

Closing Reflections

There are many ways for savvy business owners to take advantage of the advent of wearable technology. Businesses that embrace the promising future of wearable technology, by designing new devices, developing applications, and applying the data collected from wearables in unique ways, can become leaders and trendsetters in this new market.

Wearables allow businesses not only to bolster their brand by allowing their audience to access their content, products, and services on another platform but also to expand the scope of the company by designing services and events with wearables in mind.

Want more insights to grow your small business in 2016? Download the full Benchmarks for Small Business Growth report.